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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cokie's Law

by digby

Chris Matthews today:

John McCain runs afoul of right wing radio hosts. Again. As has been the case throughout this election season, going to war with the right. Is he gonna come down in the middle like Harry Truman? It may be the smart move for him to have some enemies on the right as well as the left.

It may be the brilliant, triangulization of John McCain.

Hmmm. From C&L:

Yesterday one of the big stories was when walkie-talkie Bill Cunningham voraciously attacked Barack Obama warming up a crowd for John McCain. He was so over the top that supposedly the McMaverick campaign told John about his performance and after the crowd left—McCain apologized to Obama. Cunningham was so incensed over being repudiated by McCain that he pulled the Limbaugh trick of saying he’s now supporting Hillary Clinton.

Cunningham: His people told me to give the faithful red meat. Give them red—raw—meat.

A reader reminded me of something I'd written back when this campaign was in its paleolithic era many millennia ago, about the way the right wing works this stuff:

Karl Rove is smiling this morning. Wolf Blitzer just used a clip from Rove's appearance on C-SPAN last week in which he said that Barack Obama looked weak because he failed to confront Hillary Clinton on the fact that she and her husband could release all their records with a phone call and they refuse.

We've been over this. He's a liar and he's simply tickling an ear worm they developed four years ago when they accused John Kerry of not "releasing his records." The claim is bullshit, and FactCheck.org has the explanation right here. The whole phony issue (which Tim Russert happily ran with on the previous debate) is a manufactured GOP smear featured prominently on the RNC website.

But notice how Rove does it. He not only makes the Clintons look they're hiding something, he does it by claiming that Obama is weak. It's a twofer.

In this case, McCain not only gets these insults against both Democratic candidates aired over and over again, he makes himself look good for "repudiating" it. It's "out there" which is the best of all possible worlds.

Those of us who've been following the mores of the Village for a while will also recognize this gambit as an example of "Cokie's Law."

"At this point," said Roberts, "it doesn't much matter whether she said it or not because it's become part of the culture. I was at the beauty parlor yesterday and this was all anyone was talking about."

The media have been playing those insults of Obama and Clinton over and over again on a loop --- along with that straight talking flyboy angrily dismissing the comments. The media gave him high marks for his integrity, as usual. Today, they are calling it a brilliant "triangulization" strategy. Talk about a win-win-win for McCain.

Matthews: I think McCain can pick up three votes for very vote he loses on the right, because I think you're right, the right will vote and I also think those suburbs are looking for a candidate still. That's why we keep hearing about Bloomberg.

Right. When the GOP has failed on a massive level in every possible way and all indications are that Democrats are on the verge of winning the presidency and expanding their congressional majority with a popular policy agenda, it's really an expression of a deep national yearning for maverick Republican leadership and Democratic bipartisanship.

Update: From the comments comes an apt analogy, which I missed. Cunningham is this season's Sistah Soljah.

Update II: Another one from the comments, by Joe:

Yeah, so the "twofer" triangulated by McCain produces a really, really grotesque effect: McCain is transformed into the "true" postracial, principled candidate, while Obama is smeared as "the black" or "the Muslim" candidate (see AP article linked to at TPM) and Clinton is smeared as the unprincipled, win-at-all-costs candidate. Both Democrats smeared, regardless of who wins the nomination, and McCain clean as an _Irish_ (Russertian) whistle.